A new study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry reports that the number of Americans taking antidepressant drugs doubled between 1996 and 2005.

According to the study, a startling “10% of Americans — or 27 million people — were taking antidepressants in 2005, the last year for which data were available at the time the study was written,” USA Today reported on Monday.

And most of those taking the mood-altering drugs weren’t even being treated for depression; half of those on the drugs “used them for back pain, nerve pain, fatigue, sleep difficulties or other problems, the study says,” USA Today reported.

The USA Today article suggests intensive advertising by drug companies and the willingness of many doctors to prescribe antidepressants are major contributing factors to the explosion in the use of these drugs.

But for some patients who are dealing with depression, a different approach has proven effective: the time-tested Benedictine prescription of ora et labora — pray and work. In this article we published in our May 24-30 print issue, Register correspondent Marge Fenelon reported that combining constructive physical activity with a sound prayer life “can be as efficacious as modern medicines at managing the two most frequently diagnosed mental-health maladies of our day: clinical depression and anxiety disorders.”

And, it should be noted, there are centuries of empirical data that confirms there are no negative side effects resulting from the ora et labora approach.