Twelve Step based Self Help
The Twelve Step programs started from the original Alcoholics Anonymous for drinking back in 1930s with Dr. Bob and Bill W. but have been applied to many other addictions such as substances (Narcotics, Marijuana, Nicotine, Cocaine, etc) and behaviors such as Overeating, Gambling, Sex (SA, SCA or SLAA) and Debting/Spending. Family and friends of users have similarly associated 12 step programs like Al-Anon/Alateen and relationship related programs such as CODA, Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA or ACOA), and Families Anonymous.
There are 12 step programs for Dual Diagnosis, combining Substance Abuse and Mental Illness like Dual Recovery Anonymous, Double Trouble, Affective Disorders Anonymous and possibly others like Schizophrenics Anonymous (verify 12 Step not NSF basis!). Many people are said to "Self Medicate" any mental illness with alcohol and other drugs or process addictions. Psychiatric medication is usually seen as an "outside issue" by those more knowledgeable in 12 Steps, considering psych meds necessary like diabetes.
While office hours for many psychological diseases may be limited to more professional times, and hospitals a treatment of last resort like Electro convulsive therapy (ECT), meetings for 12 Step programs can usually be found after hours and holidays around the world at 12 Step Clubs, churches, prisons and other institutions such as hospitals and schools. Coffee and cigarettes are commonly used around many program meetings though many recovering people go on to a heather lifestyle and abstain from those common addictions as well. In a meeting, a "7th Tradition"/ halftime break may be held with free will donations (usually of 1-2 USD) are collected for the meeting to be self supporting (and supporting Intergroup and World Service Organizations), though people are asked to keep coming back even if unable to donate money. Professionals, family and other concerned citizens are welcome at "Open" Meetings and committees of World Service and Intergroups are usually formed for cooperating with professionals and the media and creating "Where and When" listings of meetings. "Speakers meetings" are probably the most widely recognized meeting formats commonly seen for anniversaries like on television. As with many communities, a specialized jargon including "slogans" has developed.
Along with the Twelve Steps are the Twelve Traditions, of which Anonymity is one of the principles. It is common for 12 step recovering people to not use last names to protect anonymity at the level of Press, Radio, Films and other media. This protects the "Fellowship" (also called the "Program") as well as the individual from using the 12 step program name for outside enterprises. Many people are "12th Stepped" or introduced to the program / fellowship by a "sponsor".
A good history of the AA program beginnings are Earnest Kurtz's Not God, or the direct source, the "Big Book", Alcoholics Anonymous 4th Ed., Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, researching Oxford Groups or publications widely available at meetings with literature, in recovery gift stores or from WSO in New York City. Also, checking the phone book in most cities will find an entry for Alcoholics Anonymous or whatever associated 12 step program.
Obtaining a "Where and When" of meetings or reading the official programs websites might be a good way to start. Many professional provider programs and/or substance abuse treatment facilities contain resources to locate and/or also host independent 12 step meetings.
12 Step Programs Related to Depression
The following are links to some of the 12 step programs that specifically address depression: