Why does my dad trigger my anxiety? (+How can I cope)

This article will discuss the reasons why your dad may be triggering your anxiety. It will also discuss how you can cope with this situation.

Why does my dad trigger my anxiety? 

Your dad may be triggering your anxiety for various reasons. Let’s discuss what they are.

Past bad experiences 

If you have lived through difficult experiences with your dad in the past, it may be that being around him nowadays can trigger your anxiety. 

It can be a history of abuse, be it physical, verbal, or even emotional abuse, but going through those can often make you resent your dad, and whenever there is a moment you will need to face them again, all that past experiences will resurface.

Going through an abusive relationship can make you feel helpless, and permanently leave a mark on you. You can feel the person used you to deal with their problems, and if you were a kid when that happened, the helplessness in the situation may have stuck with you throughout your life.

Getting some distance from the abuser may be the first step towards healing, but when it is your dad, it may be impossible to not meet him once and a while. And it is in those meetings that your anxiety may be triggered. 

You may become worried that those behaviors will happen again, which may lead you to feel like you are walking on eggshells whenever around your dad, just trying to prevent them from becoming abusive again.

What you should keep in mind is that the abuse is not your fault. As your dad does this, it says more about him, than of you doing anything wrong. Don’t buy the idea that it is your responsibility that they are angry or upset, even if they say so.

Your dad is too demanding 

Sometimes dads can expect too much of their children, which can often trigger their anxiety. If your dad is constantly asking you about your grades, what college you have been accepted to, or even if you are in a relationship, being around them can create discomfort that can trigger your anxiety.

A dad that is too demanding will often disregard that their children are not a machine or a project that should only bring positive results. It also pays no attention to the fact that the child may want something different out of their lives than the dad expects of them.

Having to live up to the ideas, and expectations your dad has of you can be so stressful that each time they ask you about your plans and ideas for your life, you may feel your anxiety getting triggered. 

Setting things clear, and having in mind that even though they have some expectations for you, you are your person can help you not surrender to their every wish.

Your dad affects your self-esteem

When your dad treats you in a demeaning way, that belittles you, and harms your self-esteem, you can have your anxiety triggered whenever you are near him. Telling you they don’t trust you to do things, or that you can’t achieve some things can make you constantly worry, and feel stressed when around them.

You can begin to feel like you are under a microscope whenever close to him, which adds to your anxiety. This may have been going on for a long time, which also makes dealing with the situation even more difficult. So if you feel your dad is triggering your anxiety, know that there are some ways you can cope with it.

How can I cope when my dad triggers my anxiety? 

Dealing with a dad, or any family member that triggers your anxiety may not always be easy. It comes in steps, it leads you to consider if you want to work on this relationship, if communication is possible, or if it is just better to be away. So here are some things you can do.

Talk it out 

If your dad triggers your anxiety, the first thing you may try to do is talk about it with them. It may be that, sometimes, they are behaving in ways they never imagined would impact you this much. Letting them know how you feel allows you to externalize your feelings, but it also gives them a chance to act differently.

In some cases, it can be that this conversation leads the two of you to a more peaceful, and understanding relationship. 

But in some cases, especially when it is an abusive relationship, your dad will not understand what you are saying, or even show disregard for your pain, and that can be a clear sign that there is not a lot more to work on in that relationship.

Why does my dad trigger my anxiety? (+How can I cope)

Get some distance

If you feel that your dad is not willing to understand where you are coming from, and is still being abusive, demeaning, or demanding, it may be important for you to get some distance. It can be that the two of you still live in the same house, or are always in contact at family reunions.

But being in the same space as they are, still should allow you to get some distance. Try to spend more time with other people in your family, rather than with them. 

Discuss matters, especially the ones that are close to your heart with people that are understanding, and supportive, and little by little make them have less space in your life.

Look for professional help

Dealing with a dad that triggers your anxiety can surely leave a mark on you, and it may be something that can even impact your other relationships. Having someone that was supposed to care and protect you in this world treating you badly can lead to trust issues, and even to you having trouble letting other people get closer to you.

To deal with the reasons why your dad triggers your anxiety and the repercussions of that in your life, it may be important to look for professional help. 

Having a safe space with a therapist, with whom you can share your emotions, and understand them better can allow you to peacefully move on from that relationship but also allow other people to love you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Why does my dad trigger my anxiety? 

What is the 3 3 3 rule for anxiety?

The 3 3 3 rule for anxiety is a form of exercise that can help you calm yourself whenever you are feeling anxious. It has no contraindication, and you can do it as many times as you feel is necessary.

To practice this exercise, whenever you feel that anxiety is taking control over you, you should take a deep breath, and try to name three things you hear around you. After that, you should try to name three things you see in your surroundings, and finally, name three of your body parts.

As you do that, you may begin to feel that you are recovering yourself from the anxious state, and are focusing on something else, which will ultimately make you feel calmer.

Can a father pass anxiety to a child?

Yes, a father can pass anxiety to a child. This can happen mostly because studies have shown that there is a genetic aspect to anxiety. But that is not the only way that a father, or any parent for that matter, will pass on anxiety to their child.

It can also happen that, if the parent is constantly anxious, and lets their anxiety take control of their life, they can pass on to the child, little by little, how to act anxiously. Showing how anxiety can also be a learned behavior.

What are the most common symptoms of anxiety?

Anxiety can manifest itself in many ways, and it won’t always be the same from one person to the next. But it can lead to both physical, and emotional symptoms. For the physical ones, it is common that anxiety will make your heart beat faster, and your breathing change. It can also become faster, or sometimes, even shallow.

You can experience swarting, shaking, or even trembling. Your hands and feet can become numb, you may have gastrointestinal problems, feel weak, or tired, or even have trouble sleeping.

As for the emotional symptoms of anxiety, it can lead you to be constantly worried. You will always be nervous, and relaxing may be difficult for you. You can feel a sense of impending doom, showing you that something bad will happen soon, which will make you afraid.

It may also be difficult for you to focus on anything rather than what is worrying you, and you will feel like you can’t control that. Because anxiety can make you feel so uncomfortable, with time you will begin to avoid exposing yourself to situations that will make you anxious.

Is overthinking a sign of anxiety?

Yes, overthinking can be a sign of anxiety. But that is not all, overthinking can also be connected to many other mental health conditions such as depression. 

That is because those conditions will often lead you to have a more negative outlook on things and make you feel worried about what will happen, leading you to overthink a lot of things.

It is important, as a way to not be eaten up by anxiety, that the person develops coping skills that will help them out of these overthinking patterns. 

For that, some people may use mediation, exercise, or even distract themselves by watching a show or talking to people. This will often change their focus, and they can feel they can stop, at least for the moment, overthinking.

Are we born with anxiety, or is it something that we develop throughout our life?

Every one of us will experience anxiety at some moment in our lives. We are all equipped with that fight or flight system that will help us whenever we are in danger. So it is safe to say that to point anxiety exists in all of us, and it even has a positive connotation to it.

But it is not all of us that will develop anxiety disorders, which means that the anxiety levels of the person have become detrimental to their well-being. And that can happen because of genetics, or because of the environment, the person lives in.


This article explained what are the most common reasons why your dad triggers your anxiety. It also explained to you how you can cope with that.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write them in the section below.