A new research report issued on Wednesday found that some 8.8 million people in Britain are in over-indebted. The Money Advice Service (MAS), which conducted the research, said more than 4 million of the people in serious debt problems have been struggling to pay their bills for more than a year, and 48 percent of them feel that being in debt is preventing them from buying the basics. Of those over-indebted, the report said that half have a household income of less than 20,000 pounds (32,600 U.S. dollars) a year, and women accounted for 64 percent of the whole. People struggling with their debt peaks between the ages of 35-44, taking up 32 percent of the total. However, it drops significantly as people reach the age of 55 and above, according to the report. The research found that 74 percent of the over-indebted population were unhappy. About 70 percent of them often felt anxious because of their debt, and 56 percent reported a negative impact on their family life. MAS Chief Executive Caroline Rookes suggested people should get debt advice, saying that "the earlier people access it, the better their chance of reaching good outcomes for themselves and their creditors." She said, "Millions of people could escape their spiral of debt by accessing free advice." "However, this study presents us with a fundamental challenge: the majority of people with debt difficulties do not seek advice," she said. "This is the first time we've had such a detailed understanding of the complexity of their lives. So now, armed with greater insights, we will work with advice agencies, creditors and public bodies to help as many people as possible access free, high-quality, debt advice," she said. The MAS is an independent body set up by government and funded by the financial services industry.