A new study in the journal Social Science and Medicine reports that for people in their 20s and 30s, carrying significant debt can impact physical and mental health.

"Researchers found that the people in the study with higher debt had a 1.3 percent increase, compared with the average, in diastolic blood pressure," according to The Huffington Post.  "While this percentage may seem small, the researchers noted that a diastolic blood pressure increase of just two points raises stroke risk by 15 percent."

This is just the latest in a long line of studies to demonstrate how debt can harm you. A couple of years ago, The American Journal of Public Health published the first study to show a real and demonstrable correlation between mortgage delinquency and depression.

A University of Maryland School of Medicine study cited by the publication took a look at nearly 2,500 people to arrive at its conclusions.  Among those homeowners who were delinquent on their mortgages, 22% were defined as depressed, compared to only 3% of non-delinquent respondents being defined as depressed.

Stop and think about that for a moment: Where does happiness really come from? I can tell you it's not from accumulating things.

If you think about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory, once you have the basics like food, clothing and shelter taken care of, happiness is based on things other than possessions.

So often in our society, acquiring too many possessions comes with taking on debt. Don't get caught in that negative feedback loop. If you're already in it, I want you to work to steadily reduce your debt.

I have always said that having high level of debts isn't good mentally and emotionally, as well as financially. The anxiety, the stress and the strain it can cause, particularly in a relationship, is overwhelmingly. People are afraid of opening their mailbox or picking up the phone for fear of debt collectors.

But until this point, all the strains I'd heard about and talked about were anecdotal. The American Journal of Public Health is now putting some scientific weight behind that idea.

So take control of your wallet. Remember your wants and needs. And be careful of taking out any debt to further your lifestyle!

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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