Written by NH Women Magazine
For Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Amanda (Mandi) Sadat, PMHNP-BC, MSN, RN, MA, 200-RYT and Meredith Hogarty, PMHNP-BC, MSN, MSW, both graduates of the MGH Institute of Health Professions, it was time to break the traditional mental health treatment mold. Years of having to put time limits on patient appointments and a lack of a multidisciplinary approach inspired them to open a holistic private practice dedicated to treating the whole person while providing a nurturing and safe environment. Together, these skilled practitioners started the Psychiatric Wellness Center located at 258 S. River Road in Bedford and it is one of the few to offer both medical and therapeutic professionals on site.
When patients enter the practice, they will hear soft music playing and smell scents of lavender, rose, or bergamont all chosen based on evidence to relieve stress and increase dopamine and serotonin. They’ll be spoken with in soft tones and have a comfortable place to sit and drink tea while waiting for their appointment to begin. Sadat, who has taken the Mindfulness for Healthcare Providers course at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and also has a Masters in Expressive Arts Therapy, used her education to intentionally design and decorate the office space in a way that reduces cortisol and promotes relaxation. “I choose calming colors and neutrals as well as elements from nature to create a calming and de-escalating atmosphere to help mimic our natural surroundings,” explains Sadat.
The center specializes in the treatment of women struggling with anxiety, depression, postpartum and pre-pregnancy challenges, eating disorders, seasonal affective disorder, life trauma, and many other mental health struggles. Sadat, Hogarty, and their team work collaboratively with patients’ primary care physicians and women’s health clinics to review and order blood work, monitor vitals, properly prescribe medication, and provide individualized therapy sessions. Increasing medical and therapeutic appointment times to meet each patient’s needs provides the base for a long term relationship and allows for individualized healing. “Once you are a patient, we are sticking with you through the test of time,” says Sadat.
Built on their mutual commitment to put patients’ well being first, Sadat and Hogarty ensured they’d have dedicated space to offer mind and body connection therapies like yoga, reiki, massage therapy, and more to work collaboratively with their traditional mental health practices. Hogarty, who also holds a Masters in Clinical Social Work from Boston College says, “I have found that practicing with a holistic approach and adding holistic therapies to the standard mental health treatment involving psychotherapy and medication has offered great benefit to those in our practice.” Hogarty continues to explain, “By using a holistic approach in combination with traditional mental health treatment, many are willing to begin treatment and explore holistic and traditional methods of reaching their optimal health and well being.”
“I actually did my thesis on how yoga and exercise increase serotonin and GABA (neurotransmitter that reduces anxiety) in the brain,” explains Sadat. “Serotonin and GABA are neurotransmitters that we typically use medication to increase in the synaptic space such as SSRI or SNRI. Research shows that regular exercise like yoga, meditation, running can increase GABA specifically and reduce anxiety.” Hogarty says yoga therapy has been found to be “an effective treatment for many mental health issues including anxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
Sadat and Hogarty’s genuine care and concern for their patients is palpable. This past year has been especially difficult during the pandemic for the practice with the technological obstacles they had to quickly master to provide secure telehealth and hybrid models, yet it has always remained patients first. “Many of the patients here are nurses and therapists,” explains Sadat. “I liken COVID-19 to the grief cycle. The shock, fear, anger, depression, now bargaining. [COVID-19] has strengthened our desire to help patients.”
When asked what joy opening their practice has brought to them, the answers were thoughtful and inspiring. Hogarty says, “Taking time to reflect on the past few years of our practice, the most rewarding aspect is to be able to practice in a way that allows me to provide high quality mental health treatment, instilling hope in the lives of others and encouraging mental and emotional wellness.” Sadat says, “I’m proud of the quality of care we provide to patients and collaboration we are able to give. I’m incredibly mindful of the responsibility healthcare providers hold, especially at this time. When I look back, at what we’ve done, I see a paved road for possibility for what we are capable of doing in this amazing community in the future. I see a light moving us forward. That is really exciting.”