The cohost announced the news on Tuesday, right at the top of the hour. She's been part of the morning show since its premiere back in October 2010 and will wrap up her run when the season ends.
"This is hard to do and something that I have been struggling with for a while, and going back and forth, but I've decided that it's time for me to leave the show at the end of this season," said Gilbert. This was met with an outcry of "NOs" from the studio audience.
"I obviously love it here, and like I said, this was extremely difficult," she said, explaining that she's simply been spread too thin lately.
"Last season, I did 'The Conners' as you know and was also producing and here. I loved it and felt totally empowered, but also, if I'm being honest about it, I think my life was slightly out of balance," she continued. "I wasn't able to spend as much time with my three kids as I'd like, or time for myself and as I've continued on, I'm starting to develop more things to produce and I'm having opportunities to act and feeling like I don't know how I'm gonna do it all."
As an example of how little personal time she's had, Gilbert said she hasn't even made her son his baby book yet. He's four now.
"It's difficult because this is a place that I love and a place that I'm extremely happy. I love the hosts, I love the crew, I love our staff, I'm so grateful to the audience for letting me in your homes every day," she added. "It's been such an honor."
In closing, Gilbert said, "I'm not going anywhere yet, I'll be here the rest of the season, I'll guest cohost, You're not going to get rid of me."
Sharon Osbourne -- who has also been at the show since its first season -- was inconsolable after Gilbert made her announcement, with Sara getting emotional as well as she hugged her cohost.
"I want to say so many things to Sara," Osbourne said, breaking down in tears. "I've never worked with someone for nine years before, I always get fired," Sharon then joked.
Newcomer Carrie Ann Inaba also joked she hoped her arrival wasn't responsible for Sara's decision to leave. Inaba joined the show after Julie Chen's exit.
Angelica McDaniel, Executive Vice President, Daytime Programs at CBS, also released a statement about Gilbert's decision.
"Sara's passionate vision for a forum in which women on camera and off could celebrate mutual support, emotional growth, and everyday achievements was a driving force behind bringing THE TALK to air in 2010 as CBS' first daytime talk show. Her authenticity, compassion, quick wit and drive to succeed led to 9 successful seasons of THE TALK, garnering numerous daytime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Show and Outstanding Host," she said. "We are thankful that Sara inspired us from the beginning and wish her all the happiness and success on her new journey. She will always be family and, as you know, family can always come by for a TALK."