After managing my own depression for decades, and working with depressed people as a therapist, I have come to three conclusions about this diagnosis. The first is that to treat it, the entire person must be addressed. Our mind, emotions, body, and spiritual or existential concerns are connected. If there is a problem in one area, all are affected and need attention.
The second conclusion is that depression is an energy problem. Depressed people are lackluster, lethargic, and unmotivated. Their energy is low, or unbalanced, blocked, too slow, too fast, or otherwise, askew.
When extremely depressed, I had an awareness that my energy was moving backwards. Whether it was actually moving backwards I don’t know, but my energy was off kilter and needed to be put right.
Even if you think backwards energy is bunk, depressed people benefit by doing things that are said to balance our energy and keep it flowing. Yoga, Tai chi, qui gong , mindfulness meditation, and breathing exercises are all good for deflating depressive symptoms.
Conclusion number three is that each individual with depression must be active in discovering what helps them manage symptoms. There are treatments that apply to most of us such as cognitive therapy that teaches us to think better of ourselves. These techniques and tools are important but not enough.
In the day to day management of depression, you have to know what helps you maintain equilibrium. Therapists, family, and friends can, and will, offer suggestions. One or two of them may help, and you have nothing to lose by trying them out.
Beyond the recommendations is your self-knowledge of what supports you. Most of us have activities that we can manage even when feeling low; know what yours are. For example, I read something that requires concentration when I cannot let go of negative thoughts. That may help no one else in the world, but it works for me.
When I lie on the floor and do simple yoga poses my body relaxes. Sometimes I listen to zippy Strauss waltzes or get out my mandala coloring book and colored pencils.
I believe these activities sooth and stabilize me because they tap into my natural interests, stirring motivation. Maybe you will pull weeds in the garden or paint with watercolors. The only catch in choosing symptom management activities is they must be healthy.
A bottle of wine or six pack of beer will dull discomfort for awhile, but will not help you rise above the symptoms. The same goes for a bag of chips or box of cookies. We can manage mental anguish by eating large quantities of comfort food, but our physical body has to pay a price, and our physical health affects our mental health.
I have utilized psychotherapy and use prescription medication  to help with symptom management. However, medications are not magic. Personal symptom management tools are necessary to avoid the deep depression vortex, and it is easier to overcome inertia and do them if they touch on intrinsic motivations.
All three of my conclusions about depression management are peas in a pod. By doing healthy activities to manage symptoms you are treating your whole self, not helping one aspect at the expense of another. Plus, healthy activities re-energize the soul (or spirit, or motivation) even if you do not feel the effect right away.
To use personal symptom management tools, realize that you will likely not feel like doing them and they may not provide enjoyment, if your symptoms are more than mild. However, every positive action you take helps, no matter how small.
“Begin to free yourself at once by doing all that is possible with the means you have, and as you proceed in this spirit the way will open for you to do more.” ~ Georges Clemenceau