Several studies have reported raised levels of psychopathology based on self-rating scales in patients with spasmodic torticollis. Recent publications have also proposed that psychopathology, especially symptoms of depression, might be a reaction to dystonia or constitute a nonspecific reaction pattern. To determine the actual frequency of psychiatric disorders, we evaluated 44 patients with spasmodic torticollis (20 female, 24 male; mean age 43.6 years, SD 10.4) using the standard instrument for psychiatric diagnosis in the DSM-III-R (Structured Clinical Interview Schedule, SCID). The SCID permits retrospective diagnosis for most of the major psychiatric disorders, including the time before onset of dystonia. SCID criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder were fulfilled in 65.9% of patients, including both lifetime and current diagnosis. The most frequent diagnostic categories were panic disorder with or without agoraphobia (29.5%), major depressive disorder (25%), substance abuse (13.6%), and obsessive compulsive disorders (6.8%) were diagnosed less frequently. The patient-recalled onset of psychiatric symptoms preceded onset of torticollis symptoms in 43.2% of those investigated.